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John Threlfall

Areas of Interest

Education, Engineering

Honorary Award

Honorary Fellow, 1997


A native of Lancashire, John Threlfall was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn. He studied Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College, London, and later completed a Masters in Educational Management. He began his career as a graduate apprentice at the English Electric Company. After a period with the British Aircraft Corporation he finally turned towards teaching, and it was through his appointment as an Engineering Lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic that he found his true vocation. He left Manchester to take over as Head of Engineering at Hull College of Technology and later became Vice-Principal of Reading College of Technology. He was appointed as Director of Colchester Institute in 1985 and went on to play a pivotal role in establishing the regional partnership that was ultimately to allow Anglia Higher Education College to evolve into Anglia Ruskin University.

In 1997 John Threlfall was made an Honorary Fellow of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Fellowship of the University on Mr John Markland Threlfall, former Director of Colchester Institute.

It is a particular joy to welcome back today such a very good friend of the University as John Threlfall. There will be many in the cathedral this afternoon who remember John with warmth, gratitude and affection. He retired earlier this year from the post of Director of Colchester Institute, which he had held for 12 years.

John comes from Lancashire and was at school at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn. From there he went to Imperial College in London to study aeronautical engineering. Later he did a masters degree in educational management.

He joined the English Electric Company as a graduate apprentice and later moved to the British Aircraft Corporation.

But his true vocation lay in teaching and he became a lecturer in engineering at Manchester Polytechnic. From there he moved to become Head of Engineering at Hull College of Technology and then Vice-Principal of Reading College of Technology.

He came as Director to Colchester Institute in 1985 and it was from that point that his close relationship developed with what was then Essex Institute of Higher Education, later to become APU. He was one of the band of visionaries who established the close partnership between what is now Anglia Polytechnic University and Colchester Institute and Writtle College, Norwich School of Art and Design and City College in Norwich. It was largely as a result of that close partnership that Anglia Higher Education College, which was the successor of Essex Institute of Higher Education, was able to meet the necessary requirements to become a Polytechnic an subsequently a University.

The vision lies in the concept of a close partnership of independent educational institutions which, by working together with a common purpose and vision, can offer the benefits of higher education flexibly and locally. This has become a model which others are following.

The partnership has remained strong and is growing in extent and ambition. We owe to John Threlfall and some of his colleagues the inspiration and the vision.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I invite you, Vice Chancellor, to confer an Honorary Fellowship of the University on our friend Mr John Threlfall in recognition and gratitude for his contribution to the establishment of this University and the Regional University partnership."